Followers of Asian football witnessed a series of surprises this past week. Newly-promoted Al-Jaish continued their emergence in Qatar as they thrashed Al Wakra 4-0 to move to fourth, while Iranian minnows Sanat Naft leapfrogged holders Sepahan to go second courtesy of a 2-0 win over Damash. In Kuwait, Al-Jahra made it maximum points from two games as Melbourne Victory returned to form in Australia. FIFA.com takes a closer look.
Australian A-League: Central Coast go eight clear
There was no change to the top three, with Central Coast leading Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Heart. However, the pacesetters extended their cushion at the summit to eight points with a solitary-goal win at Sydney FC, while Brisbane and Melbourne were held to 1-1 draws by Adelaide United and Gold Coast United respectively.
The big game: Having conceded a late penalty to share six goals with Perth Glory in their previous outing, defending champions Roar suffered their second 3-3 draw in four days. In the last match, Perth's Mile Sterjovski salvaged a point against Roar and this time it was Adelaide's Sergio van Dijk that broke the Glory’s heart as he stepped up to the spot to cancel out Issey Nakajima-Farran's opener.
The headline-grabber: Melbourne Victory returned to form with a spirited 2-1 home triumph over Newcastle Jets, much to the delight of Jim Magilton, who will now assume the A-League giants’ reins. Danny Allsopp put the hosts ahead inside seven minutes before they doubled the lead courtesy of a Byun Hwan Sung own-goal, which left Ryan Griffiths' late goal for the visitors as no more than a consolation.
Qatari Stars League: Al-Sadd move second
While holders Lekhwiya enjoy a five-point lead at the summit following a 2-1 home victory over Al-Rayyan, the competition among the chasing pack is tight with only two points separating five teams. Despite being held to a goalless draw at home to Al-Gharrafa, FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2011 bronze medalists Al Sadd jumped second, above Qatar SC on goal difference.
The big game: Qatar international striker Sebastian Soria was twice on target as Qatar SC came from behind three times to draw 3-3 at home to Al Arabi. All six goals came in the second half, with Leonardo Pisculichi opening the scoring for the visitors before Soria drew the hosts level. After Boualem Khoukhi restored Arabi's lead and Fadhl Omar again leveled for the home side, Khoukhi struck his second in injury time to give the visitors the crucial edge. However, Soria converted a penalty to give the home team a share of the points.
The headline-grabber: Newly-promoted Al-Jaish are surprisinglymaking waves. Inspiring the top flight newcomers is Brazilian striker Adriano, who has racked up seven goals in only four appearances, including a brace in yesterday’s 4-0 demolition of Al-Wakra, which saw them climb to fourth.
Iranian Pro League: Sanat Naft continue emergence
The top-of-the-table clash between leaders Esteghlal and holders Sepahan saw honours even, with the two sides finishing up 1-1. Despite dropping points at home, Esteghlal stayed four clear. The result, however, proved costly for Sepahan as they conceded second place to Sanat Naft, who defeated Damash 2-0 at home.
The big game: Despite beating Mes 2-0 in the Hafzi Cup semi-finals to set up a final meeting with Esteghlal on 29 January, Shahin's form in the league looks different with the Busheher-based side languishing in 12th. Entering the match with Foolad in desperate search for a win, they lost 2-1.
The headline-grabber: Sanat Naft's Malian striker Founeke Sy has proved to be one of the league's most worthy imports as he has found the net 11 times to top the scoring chart. Against Damash, he broke the deadlock after 66 minutes, before Ali Mombeini sealed victory three minutes from time.
In Lebanon, Nejmeh finished the first half of the campaign on top after a stoppage-time penalty gave them a hard-fought 2-1 win over Ikhaa. However, the six-time league champions must keep wary of second-placed Safa, who won 3-2 against Racing. Defending champions Al-Ahed, meanwhile, remain third following a 2-1 reverse of Mabarra.
In Kuwait, having opened the season with a 2-0 home win over Al-Salmiya, Al-Jahra continued their form by inflicting a 1-0 defeat on heavyweights Al-Arabi, who recently won the Crown Prince Cup. With two wins out of two, they are co-leading the eight-strong league alongside defending champions Al-Qadissiyah, while Al-Kuwait opened the season’s accounts by edging Al-Shabab 1-0 for their first win.
In Iraq, Al-Jawad struck on the hour to cancel out Hesham Muhammed's opener as minnows Baghdad SC came from behind to draw 1-1 with holders Al-Zawraa. This was the latter's fourth draw in 11 fixtures this season during which they have won four times, with the results leaving the Iraqi champions ninth in the 20-strong league. Meanwhile, a 2-0 loss to Al-Karakh saw Al-Talaba concede their place at the top to Duhok, who are leading on goal difference following a 2-1 triumph at Zakho.